Homophobia Not a Biblical Imperative

Interesting how many devout Christians quote the Scriptures out of context to validate their hang-ups and biases. The homophobes among them, for instance, latch on to the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19), the story of the sojourning Levite (Judg. 19) and the injunctions of Leviticus 20:13 to contend that the Lord commanded that homosexuals be put to death. As we speak Christian politicians in Uganda are proposing legislation making certain homosexual acts punishable by death. Here in America some fundamental Christian pastors preach that that the Lord sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans as punishment for the city’s tolerance of homosexual liaisons and plans to hold a gay-day parade.

Actually homosexuality as such is hardly an issue in the Bible. The men who threatened to rape Lot's angelic guests (Gen. 19) and the sojourning Levite (Judges 19) were really heterosexual thugs, the kind found in prisons, who rape other men to show their dominance over them, an act of brutality not lust. The proverbial 300-lb “Bubba.” The rape scene in the film Deliveranceoffers a good example.

In many cultures past and present it is accepted practice for a macho man to demonstrate his masculinity by sodomizing a weaker man or a homosexual. In my native Cuba, for instance, there are men who boast that they now and then take pleasure in servicing maricones. As long as there is no affection on the part of the man perpetrating the act, such acts are not regarded as homosexuality. In both the Genesis and Judges stories the God-fearing hosts tried to appease the thugs by offering them their virgin daughters, which clearly indicates that the thugs were not homosexuals. In the Judges 19 story, the thugs settled for the sojourner’s concubine, in what is perhaps the most harrowing rape scene ever written.

The Mosaic Law did prescribe the death penalty for homosexuality, but also did for murder, rape, kidnapping, witchcraft, idolatry, treason, sedition, contempt of court, temple desecration, cursing one's parents, pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, and bestiality—this last sin apparently a nagging problem in the shepherding culture of the Chosen People, not only for the people, but for the sheep and goats as well.

Mentions of sodomy—vague allusions to sexual transgressions (non-reproductive sex? recreational sex?) crop now and then in the Old Testament, but homosexuality as such only twice. In the New Testament, Paul denounces both male and female homosexuality (Rom. 1: 26-27), but Jesus Christ, the ultimate authority on what is and isn’t sinful, doesn't mention homosexuality at all. In the New King James Version, Paul makes a distinction between homosexuals and sodomites. Obviously there was a difference between the two. (Cor. 6:9).

Homophobic Evangelicals should read the Scriptures more carefully. God didn’t destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because folks there were gay, but because they were incorrigibly wicked.

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